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Monday, October 10, 2005

As Ye Sow So Shall Ye Reap, Muthafuckah

From ThinkProgress

Towards the end of the segment, Kristol got started, saying, “I hate the criminalization of politics.”

I'll bet he does. Perhaps he should have thought of that before he and his little friends used the Independent Counsel Statute and majority status in the congress ato normalize character assassination, bogus lawsuits, election stealing and partisan impeachments.

Remember this, Bill?

Politicians, jittery as they are, may wish to reread the prophetic words of author Mark Helprin, in a Wall Street Journal piece from October 1997. For Republicans, wrote Helprin, "there can be only one visceral theme, one battle, one task" -- "to address the question of William Jefferson Clinton's fitness for office in light of the many crimes, petty and otherwise, that surround, imbue, and color his tenure. The president must be made subject to the law."

Thanks to Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp -- and, of course, Ken Starr -- Helprin's call to arms carries a new urgency. Starr's report will reveal, in Helprin's words, "a field of battle clearly laid down." The lines have been drawn. What Republicans now need is the nerve to fight. They must stand for, to quote Helprin again, "the rejection of intimidation, the rejection of lies, the rejection of manipulation, the rejection of disingenuous pretense, and a revulsion for the sordid crimes and infractions the president has brought to his office." (William Kristol, Weekly Standard, May 25, 1998, page 18.)

Yes, that criminalization of politics is a real bitch, isn't it Bill? Now that Republicans have a professional federal prosecutor on their asses for serious crimes they are, predictably, stomping their tiny feet and wailing like a big bunch 'o babies.

Tell it to Bill Clinton and all the people who worked for him who were never convicted of anything but had their careers ruined by Kristol's hit men during the 90's --- a decade of nonstop trivial GOP smears to which he gladly lent his stentorian hectoring about about morality and "the rule of law."

Now we have a full-fledged criminal enterprise and illegal patronage machine running the government and they are squealing hysterically because the law is finally catching up to them --- and without any help from the hapless Democrats who have no power to do jack shit.

And to top it all off, Mr Morality is all depressed and demoralized that the corporation in a suit he calls a president has nominated one of his political cronies to the Supreme Court. What a bunch of punks. All of 'em.

The Third Way And The Highway

There is a much discussed report by The Third Way Middle Class Project called "The Politics of Polarization" that purports to analyze the plight of the Democrats and suggests concrete measures to focus the party. Based on a reading of the executive summary, the conclusions, and some skimming through the report, those of us who are liberals will find at least some food for thought. But it has several major flaws in its reasoning which led the authors to conclude, wrongly, that the Democratic Party should advocate "centrist," actually center-right, positions.

Two of the flaws are uwarranted assumptions on the part of the authors. First, they deride "the myth of mobilization;" it is a mistake, they say, to assume that by energizing liberals and getting them to the polls in record numbers, Democrats can win. They argue that since conservatives outnumber liberals 3 to 2, "Democrats cannot win the game of “base” ball, except in those rare circumstances in which conservatives are discouraged and demobilized."

Let's not argue with their stats for now. What they fail to take into account is that perhaps liberals may not be a dependable base for the Democratic Party.

In my own case, I donated thousands of dollars to Democrats in 2002 and 2004, far more than I ever had before, and far more than I could afford. That is how serious I felt the situation was. Despite having the distinct advantage of having to campaign against the worst president ever, the Democrats lost badly both times. Folks, whatever the amount of shenanigans that went on, it shouldn't have even been close. The Democratic Party took my money and blew it. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... won't get fooled again.

Come 2006 and 2008, therefore, I will be donating not a dime directly to any Democratic candidate, but rather to organizations that advocate liberal causes - not radical causes, but liberal ones, I'm no revolutionary - who will then donate to candidates that they believe are both viable and liberal. If my money ultimately goes to Democrats, fine. But my money will go only to groups that are unequivocably liberal. If they funnel my money to candidates from other parties, that's fine, too.

I suspect I am far from alone. If the Democrats tack right, they may find that their liberal base is more mythological than real. The Third Way authors fail to take into account how thoroughly disgusted many of us are. We're not disgusted with politics (and Republicans are beyond disgust). We're disgusted with the Democratic leadership and their failure both to win and to articulate a compelling platform. Sure, Dean's head of the party, but it remains to be seen whether that is more than a merely ornamental appointment. So far, I'm not that excited about what I've seen.

The authors fail to understand that liberals are not, in their dismissive phrase, "Michael Moore Democrats." I, for one, am eminently practical. I'm perfectly aware that a national politician needs to take numerous positions I disagree with if for no other reason than to appeal to people who are quite different than me. But the party hasn't done that. They've advocated positions and implemented strategies that appeal to no one except their marketing consultants. The Third Way authors assume liberals will just pony up as usual even if the party chooses a platform carefully tailored to offend no one, and therefore excite no one. Well this liberal won't saddle up for that ride. I want to see a genuinely winning strategy. But as Joe himself proved, twice, Liebermanism is not a winning strategy on a presidential ticket. It never will be. Ominously, however, that is what the authors of "The Politics of Authorization" suggest Democrats adopt.

The second flawed assumption is structural. The authors of "The Politics of Polarization" take as a given that political parties in the United States are, first and foremost power clusters, a core of pure energy onto which one slathers a gooey, sticky sweet collection of endlessly replaceable causes. Therefore, what Democrats need to do in order to win is simply pick whatever they want - hot fudge values, melted marshmallow values, walnut sauce, and sprinkles - provided marketing research certifies that enough people find them yummy.

This is not how voters perceive political alignments, at least not in modern times. Parties are perceived as comprising of people with shared social and political values. Their values are inextricably wound up in their desire to obtain political influence; a will to power analysis won't cut it, it's far too crude (as crude as a purely "idealistic" analysis would be).

The result of such an analysis leads to disaster. We know what Republicans are. Republicans value big business, the dangerous myth of Manifest Destiny, and a violent, arrogant foreign policy. Democratic leaders, on the other hand value...I have absolutely no idea beyond their desire to obtain and, increasingly rarely, retain power.

This second flaw - that values can be applied to a pre-existing party apparatus and changed as the polls change - is fatal, in my opinion, to their analysis. It fails to take into account that we voters perceive such behavior as the height of cynical opportunism. And it enables the GOP to argue that Democrats "will say anything, absolutely anything to get elected," which is exactly what Cheney said. The problem is not only one of perception: it is one of analysis. The Third Way authors have chosen a way of conceiving of the problem that is doomed to provide an inadequate party platform. Indeed, their reccomendations are the same tired, same-old, same-old that hasn't worked for years.

As for the merits of this study, there are some. Kevin Drum rightly points out that the authors are correct: a national security strategy must be articulated. Given that Bush has none - "exterminate all the brutes," aka Perle/Frum's "End of Evil" is not a strategy, it's closer to a racist fantasy - this shouldn't be that hard. It's clearly not the fault of "Michael Moore Democrats" that Democrats haven't been able to. Rather it is the obsession of folks like the Third Way authors that any recognition of complexity in foreign policy will be tarred as "liberal" that's holding things up.

The study also warns that a rising tide of Hispanic voters will not necessarily help Democrats. If the party leadership were competent, this would be a "no shit, Sherlock" kind of an insight. Under the circumstances, the warning about Hispanic voters is important.

The study also brings up the importance of religion in American political life. It is true that Democrats, and liberals too, have failed to find compelling ways to restate the obvious: to tear down the wall of separation between church and state is not the American Way.

Distressingly, the study takes an ignorant swipe at those of us who know that Democratic rhetoric is in need of a complete overhaul. They assume we think that rhetoric is the only major problem. Hardly. The simple fact, however, is that you can't have good ideas unless you can articulate them well. Until Democratic rhetoric is focused as carefully as the Republicans have done, it will be all but impossible to come up with compelling new ideas. This is not Lakoffian hoo hah. This simply is what Richard Feynman meant when he said that unless a physicist can teach quantum physics so it's comprehensible to an undergraduate, the physicist doesn't understand it.

So there you have it. If the Democrats continue to listen to Third Way authors, they will get enough reality to make them think there's some there there, because there actually is. A little. But there's a lot of the same reasoning that has permitted extremism to thrive in the GOP by winning elections with no intelligent opposition. It's the kind of reasoning that caused the Democrats to squander the greatest gift handed them in the entire history of the party, a gift that should have ensured Democrats a 50 year plus dominance in US politics: the Bush presidency.

(A disclaimer: I have never discussed this subject with Digby and they are clearly not his opinions, or Jane's, but only mine. Digby or Jane may be less disillusioned with Democratic leadership than I, or more. I have no idea. I just don't want them to be held responsible for opinions that they don't necessarily share.)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

2005 Ignobels

And there are some doozies. My favorites:

The Ignobel for Physics went to The Pitch Drop Experiment. The experiment began in 1927 and demonstrates the high viscosity of pitch:
The pitch was warmed and poured into a glass funnel, with the bottom of the steam sealed. Three years were allowed for the pitch to consolidate, and in 1930 the sealed stem was cut. From that date the pitch has been allowed to flow out of the funnel and a record kept of the dates when drops fell. The observations which appear in the illustration are brought up to date in table 1. The pitch in its funnel is not kept under any special conditions, so its rate of flow varies with normal, seasonal changes in temperature...

Table 1 Record of pitch drops.

Year Event
1930 The stem was cut
1938(Dec) 1st drop fell
1947(Feb) 2nd drop fell
1954(Apr) 3rd drop fell
1962(May) 4th drop fell
1970(Aug) 5th drop fell
1979(Apr) 6th drop fell
1988(Jul) 7th drop fell
2000(28 Nov) 8th drop fell

The Ignobel for Economics was awarded the inventor of The Clocky, an alarm clock that rings, rolls off the night table, and hides. Repeatedly.

The Ignobel for Chemistry went to the co-authors of a report that answers a question that has puzzled mankind for aeons: Will humans swim faster or slower in syrup?

And the others are also most enlightening.

And for the 2006 Ignobel Peace Prize, I'd like to nominate The Faith Converter 1.9:
Found an admirable tome but it's in praise of the wrong god? Faith Converter is a godsend for priests, vicars, rabbii and holy men of all descriptions. Preach next Sunday's sermon from the Vedas, Noble Eightfold Path, Torah or Das Kapital!

The premier theological plagiarism solution for OS X...

Converted text can be copied, saved or printed.

Sample Conversions:

"Attend church at Christmas or else God will send you to Hell, with Satan, for not reading your Bible."


"Attend collective farm #897 at Leninmas or else Dialetical Materialism will send you to the poverty-striken capitalist democracies, with abundant consumer goods, for not reading your Manifesto."

"If you are a true bodhisattva, you will also appreciate the insights into the Three Baskets (Tripitika) presented by the monk. Be warned not to be a heretic or sell your soul to Mao, as this usually ends badly."

converts from Buddhism to atheism as:

"If you are a true science-guy, you will also appreciate the insights into the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World - Ptolemaic and Copernican presented by the scientist. Be warned not to be a religious nutter or sell your reticular formation to Pope Paul V, as this usually ends badly."

Treason Update

Oh, I'm sorry, it's not really "treason" to leak the name of an undercover operative and thereby expose to possible harm not only her and her family, but all the people she worked with, and her colleagues, not to mention the United States (the United States? And commenting from his place in comedy heaven, Don Adams responds, I told you not to mention that!).

Well, anyway, the legal eagles assure us it isn't treason, so it isn't, but if you want a decent roundup of the latest on the treason- dang! - I mean the Rove/Libby investigation of the Plame leak, Hunter over at Kos has the skinny.
How To Win Friends And Influence People

The earthquake in Pakistan is yet one more unspeakably awful natural disaster in, what?, a year plus of horrific tragedies: the tsunami (which was about an order of magnitude more deadly than the Pakistan quake), Katrina, Rita, a horrific mudslide in Guatemala and numerous more that may have slipped from mind on a Sunday morning but are permanently engraved in the memories of the afflicted and their loved ones all over the world. We all know what to do: Find a relief organization we respect and once more open our wallets to aid the victims.

Our donations will surely be joined by others. Indeed, the people of northwest Pakistan can expect one man to be exceedingly generous with his financial aid and with the assistance of his numerous organizations. That man is Osama bin Laden. Remember him? He's the guy Bush "truly" isn't that concerned about. Alas, being a New Yorker, with a brand new terrorist threat to deal with, my family does not have that luxury.

Now, bin Laden as we all know is one ruthless, vicious sonofabitch. The stories I've come across of how he compels obedience within al Qaeda and from his hapless neighbors are truly revolting - the New Yorker printed a few back in 2002/03, I believe, and there's no reason to doubt them. But there's another way bin Laden protects his interests. He buys his safety. And he pays top rupee.

The story of how bin Laden built a major highway in Sudan is well known (by the way, the link is a fascinating interview of UBL from 1996 conducted by Robert Fisk). But that only touches the surface of bin Laden's "philanthropy."* Bin Laden and groups he's funded have built Muslim hospitals, schools, and other buildings. The NY Times Magazine published this description of how bin Laden ensured his escape from Tora Bora:
As the crowd began to shout ''Zindibad [Long live] Osama,'' the leader of Al Qaeda moved through the banquet hall dispensing white envelopes, some bulky, some thin, the thickness proportionate to the number of extended families under each leader's command. Lesser chieftains, according to those present, received the equivalent of $300 in Pakistani rupees; leaders of larger clans, up to $10,000.

Bin Laden really didn't have to buy the loyalty of the Pashtun tribal chiefs; they were already devoted to him. He was, after all, the only non-Afghan Muslim of any consequence in the past half-century who had stood with the Afghans. But on that November afternoon, and on the nights that followed it, as bin Laden began to lay the groundwork for his escape from the Tora Bora caves, the elusive Qaeda leader was determined to be absolutely sure.
In other words, dear friends, I think it's quite likely that right now one of the larger donors of aid to the sad people of northwest Pakistan is one of our worst enemies, who by "generously helping out" at this time will further cement the loyalty of those protecting him.

And this brings up some rather important issues for we Americans. With a sensible government, the US would, as a matter of course, immediately open up both its heart and its wallet big time to come to the aid of some of the most beleagured people on earth. Sure, it would be to some extent a political calculation, but the offer to help would be also sincere and instinctive. Emergency aid workers, familiar with both the people and the terrain of rural Pakistan, who could speak their language, would be rapidly dispatched whose purpose would be to save lives, rapidly repair infrastructure and just as rapidly, leave. **

Putting aside all the karma calculations that altruism generates and looking at such aid in the cold light of foreign policy strategy, the amount of goodwill America would receive would be absolutely priceless. Surely, America can easily outspend anyone, even a crazy man with Saudi petrodollars behind him.

There's just one problem with this scenario. We don't have a sensible government and therefore, the US simply can't afford to open its heart in the way the situation deserves. And that's because the present administration - unlike, or at the very least, more than most - sorely lacks three things: money, brains, and most importantly, a basic sense of human decency (no matter how often compromised) which enables an American government to think wisely, and spend wisely.

Now one would hope, in fact, expect the Bush administration to pony up more than the $100,000 they've currently offered, plus helicopters and other supplies. I am sure they will. (And I'm also sure they'll screw it all up. Remember these are the clowns who dumped peanut butter, for crissakes, onto Afghanistan, the "world's biggest minefield' during the first Bush war. )

But the US doesn't have the cash to spare for large-scale humanitarian efforts anymore. Why? Well, there's Katrina for one, Rita for another, and let's not forget all the money given to the tsunami victims. There's also been another huge money pit for the US recently, can't exactly remember what it could be...No, not the taxcuts for the rich, something else. Something sucking $200 billion out of our economy. Help me out here, folks: where are we spending all that money again? And exactly why, again?

But while we're trying to remember where that money went in the past few years, we can contemplate the simple nastiness that's undermined the nation's image as a generous one. The poverty of spirit that led the leader of the House to blame the tsunami's destruction on the failure of its victims to worship God in a proper manner - proper according to him and his cronies, of course. And there are many such examples, DeLay hardly stands alone in his xenophobia.

And so it goes. And it is so pathetic. A great nation, the greatest ever in so many ways, unable to do something as relatively straightforward as earn the goodwill of an abject, demoralized people. A great nation whose leaders can't even understand why, in a battle for hearts and minds (which is precisely the kind of war bin Laden actually is waging) it is necessary to obtain that goodwill, the price of which is dirt cheap compared to the death of a single soldier or the rage caused by the death of a loved one due to American force.

Enough. It's time once again to ignore the Bush administration and simply open our wallets, and hearts. Yeah, I've donated way too much already, like so many of you folks. But it's the right thing to do, dammit, so it's gotta be done.

*Note to rightwingnuts: You may already know this, but in case you don't: It's a sad fact that many of you have reading comprehension disorders. That plus some severe cognitive...issues... cause you to read what I've written and come to the bizarre conclusion that a tolerant liberal like myself would actually "side with" a religious fanatic like, say, Osama bin Laden, or Randall Terry. These problems aren't your fault, of course. God, for whatever inscrutable reasons, has endowed many of us with commonsense and logic, and the rest, sadly, are doomed to become, well, rightwingnuts like yourselves. So, let me make this crystal clear, to save you the hassle of typing outraged, but stupidly misdirected vitriol my way: I really don't need you to tell me what bin Laden's largesse is actually worth and what it actually means or is intended to do. Got that?

**Obviously, the situation is more complex than even the longest blogpost could address. Some random questions: What nationality would the aid workers be? How would American dollars and help get to people who have been threatened with the torture of their relatives if they "collaborate" with Americans? But that the US should take a heavily proactive role in global emergency disaster assistance -certainly heavier than the Bush administration thinks it should have- is patently obvious, for moral and strategic reasons. The details will be devilish. But they are worth grappling with.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bush Ratings Hit New Low, But...

for no good reason at all, 37 % of the American people still approve of Bush. Incredible how many people remain duped.

BTW, there are some folks who think Bush is a goner, that he's been abandoned by his own party, that he's headed for the duck pond. Not so fast, friends. Presstitutes imagines a plausible scenario by which he could quickly rebound. And as Digby himself noted below, the Miers nomination may be criticized by many on the right who were praying like crazy for Son of Bork, but it is all of a piece with the Bush strategy to maintain Republican hegemony well beyond 2008. After all, it's best to have a rabid Republican loyalist in place when the inevitable criminal cases directed at the top of the Bush administration comes to the Supreme Court than someone whose loyalty is in doubt.
Party Like It's 1925!

Hi, everyone! I'm very honored to be posting here on Digby's blog. And it will be kind of fun to be back in the saddle posting on a regular basis. So without any further ado, here goes.

I've been following "Scopes 2," aka, the Pandas Trial, aka Kitzmiller v. Dover. This is an ACLU-supported challenge to the Dover (Pennsylvania) Area School Board moves to include "intelligent design" in public school science classes. I hope I don't jinx anything by saying that things are looking very good. The scientific witnesses have been very strong and the defense's arguments are very, very feeble. You can find a running blog covering the trial here and they link to trial transcripts. I haven't gone through them all yet, but I would certainly recommend Barbara Forrest's testimony. She is the co-author of the absolutely indispensable Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, a definitive survey of the IDiots, as I've nicknamed them. I reviewed Forrest's book here.

Incredibly, some of the smartest people I know are quite confused over "intelligent design." A few years ago, my wife and I were having lunch with some friends, two enormously gifted investigative reporters for two Major Metropolitan Newspapers here in New York, folks whose bylines often appear on the front page. The subject turned to the evolution debate and John (name changed to protect the guilty) said, "Actually, I really think 'intelligent design' should be taught in science class." I was absolutely shocked, He had no idea what the actual issues are. Similarly, last week, we were having dinner with a philosopher of science and his wife. They, too, didn't quite understand why "intelligent design" does not belong in biology classes. So, in case any of you find it unclear, here's the skinny:

1. The theory of evolution proposed by Darwin and elaborated over the past 140 years or so is as close to proven fact as anything in science.

2. Despite an incredibly expensive marketing campaign to convince an unsuspecting public, and its lawmakers, otherwise, there has been no original research in "intelligent design" published in respected science journals. That's because none of the IDiots has done a stitch of science that can withstand peer review.*

3. "Intelligent Design" clearly is nothing more than creationism with big hair and thick lipstick, tarted up to look like science. In fact,, in a new edition of an infamous creationist textbook, "the word "creationism had been replaced by 'intelligent design,' and 'creationist' simply replaced by 'intelligent design proponent.' ". Also, see here.

4. Therefore, since there is no science to "intelligent design," and since it is clearly a religious belief, there is no reason under the sun why it should be taught in public school science classes. It would make more sense to teach astrology.

I'll be writing more on the subject later. I think it is important not only to defeat this recent attempt to undermine science by defending real science against creationism, but to go after the "intelligent design" advocates on their own turf. In other words, I'm suggesting that not only is "intelligent design" bad science, but also bad theology.

By the way, to those who want to argue in favor of IDiocy, first go to Pharyngula and argue with PZ Meyers, an expert on the subject of evolution. When you convince him that there is actually something scientific in "intelligent design", feel free to come back here and I'll be delighted to discuss it with you.

*A few minor articles, like literature reviews have occasionally been snuck past an editor, but they have been quickly debunked.)
Judy, Pinch and a Boy Named Scooter

In a furious bout of post-prison housecleaning, Judy Miller just "happened" to find notes today from June 2003 when she spoke with Scooter Libby about Joe Wilson.

Of all the amazing discoveries. She's the fucking Indiana Jones of dust bunnies, that one.

I keep coming back to the September 15 letter (PDF) from Scooter Libby to Judy Miller, kind of like a scab you just can't help picking at.


1. In Patrick Fitzgerald's "leaked" letter of September 12, 2005 (PDF) to Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, he runs down the facts as told to him by Libby:
Mr. Libby has discussed a meeting with Ms. Miller on July 8 2003, at the St. Regis Hotel and a later conversation between Mr. Libby and Ms. Miller by telephone in the late afternoon of July 12, 2003. Mr. Libby has described his recollection of the substance of those two conversations, without limitation.
Libby was most probably quoting the party line that everyone else was testifying to -- namely, that whatever was done to Joe Wilson came in response to his July 6, 2003 editorial in the New York Times entitled What I Didn't Find in Africa. They weren't trying to smear him, doncha know -- they were just providing appropriate counterbalance to what he was saying, trying to helpfully provide the press with some mitigating factors.

Thus began the Rove as Whistleblower meme we all remember with so much fondness.

2. Joe Wilson, in his book and elsewhere, has long maintained that the White House Iraq Group -- whose notes and records Fitzgerald has subpoenaed -- did a workup of him in March, before his editorial was ever published. As early as his October 13, 2002 article in the San Jose Mercury News, Wilson was calling 'em all a bunch of hosebags. He had been flying in their radar for a while.

3. When Libby wrote his sodden mash note to Judy it seems to me that he was quite obviously trying to hip her to the fact that it was okay to talk about anything that happened in July:
The Special Counsel identified every reporter with whom I had spoken about anything in July 2003, including you. My counsel then called counsel for each of the reporters, including yours, and confirmed that my waiver was voluntary.
Translation: It's okay for you to talk about July meetings but nothing else.

Judy Miller was sitting in fucking prison on tenterhooks. She's had plenty of time to think about each and every time she met with poor lovestruck Aspen-riddled Scooter, and what the implications were of each and every one of those meetings along the way. She didn't fucking "forget" an entire month there looped on pruno. Scooter let her know what she could say. And she probably complied.

4. If Libby was lying, he did not believe that there was anything provided to Fitzgerald that was going to contradict what he had to say, like -- oh -- the minutes of the White House Iraq Group, or the testimony of those in WHIG, including Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley, James Wilkinson and Nicholas Cailo, in addition to the Rove man himself.

5. On Thursday, September 29, when Judy agrees to testify, Fitzgerald goes to the slam and spends a little quality time with her, just to get her story down before she goes and has a steak with Pinch. (Does she have a thing for men with awful names or what?)

That night, Fitzgerald calls up Joe Wilson, and confirms what he probably already knew one way or another -- Judy and Scooter were talking as early as June, contrary to what both were saying.

(Emptywheel has penned a nifty little dramatization of this particular sequence of events. Highly recommended, Oscar-caliber stuff. Considering the skeevy characters involved, we applaud her for leaving out the sex scenes.)

6. Suddenly Judy REMEMBERS her earlier "notes" and meeting with Scooter. I'm guessing the dog didn't just barf 'em up -- her attorney probably got a helpful memory-prodding phonecall from Fitzgerald, who probably knew Judy was going to lie her lying face off all along.

7. Suddenly -- VOILA! -- a SLEW of people want to come in and spend quality time with Fitzgerald and the grand jury again. They are VOLUNTEERING. Because, as you know, testifying before Fitzgerald's grand jury is all the rage in DC these days, and everyone needs a hobby.

I will leap to the presumption that the "we were just reacting to Joe Wilson's editorial" group bullshit is falling apart faster than a cheap thong in a hot dryer. It's hard to know just how much sleight-of-hand went into perpetuating this particular lie, but I will wager no small amount.

Note to self: do not EVER play poker with Patrick Fitzgerald.

(cross-posted at firedoglake)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Like He Cared

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told President Bush and others that he never engaged in an effort to disclose a CIA operative's identity to discredit her husband's criticism of the administration's Iraq policy, according to people with knowledge of Rove's account in the investigation.


They said Bush asked Rove to assure him he was not involved in an effort to divulge Plame's identity and punish Wilson, and the longtime confidant assured him so. He answered similarly when White House press secretary Scott McClellan asked a similar question.

Sure. Uh huh. Rove's just another White House employee and big boss Junior called him in and asked asked him for "reassurance" that he wasn't involved and Karl said "no sir." Yeah. That's believable.

Either somebody thinks it's finally time to cover the Preznit's ass or this is the most beautiful prosecutorial mindfuck ever. Or both. Even Turdblossom has to be impressed with the threat to prosecute for lying to the president. That's downright Shakespearean.

The Enigma

Remember, there is one guy who knows for sure who leaked what and would have very likely been in on any subsequent cover-up --- The King of the Undead, Count Novakula.

He didn't pull a Judy so it's assumed he cooperated. He quite blatantly changed his story publicly from "I didn't dig it out, they gave it to me" to " I don't know nothin' bout' namin' no operatives."

I sure hope he didn't make the mistake of fibbing to the Fibbies about any of this...

Wassup with Bob?

Who Needs Me?

Lucky Duckies. The inimitable Jane at firedoglake has also agreed to guest post here for a few days so that you can all keep up with your necessary Fitz fits and Plamey goodness (among other things.)

Play nice --- or she'll kick your ass.

Drive By

In case anyone's wondering what is the real reason that Porter Goss is refusing to make public the CIA IG report, here's a little clue:

George Tenet is not going to let himself become the fall guy for the September 11 intelligence failures, according to a former intelligence officer and a source friendly to Mr. Tenet.

A scathing report by Inspector General John Helgerson criticized the former CIA director and a score of other agency personnel for their failure to develop a strategy against al Qaeda. The report, delivered to Congress this week, recommends punitive sanctions for Mr. Tenet, former Deputy Director of Operations James L. Pavitt and former counter-terrorist center head J. Cofer Black. Mr. Tenet's response to the report is a 20-page, tightly knitted rebuttal of responsibility prepared with the aid of a lawyer, according to the friendly source.

Mr. Tenet's decision to defend himself against the charges in the report poses a potential crisis for the White House. According to a former clandestine services officer, theformerCIAdirector turned down a publisher's $4.5 million book offer because he didn't want to embarrass the White House by rehashing the failure to prevent September 11 and the flawed intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Tenet, according to a knowledgeable source, had a "wink and a nod" understanding with the White House that he wouldn't be scapegoated for intelligence failings. The deal, one source says, was sealed with the award of the Presidential Freedom Medal.

Now that deal may be off. Mr. Tenet's rebuttal to the report is detailed and explicit. In defending his integrity as CIA director, Mr. Tenet treads perilously close to affirming the account of Richard Clarke, the former NSC terrorism official whose public disclosure of the Bush administration's delay in adopting a strategy against al Qaeda stirred controversy last summer.

The IG report is the result of a 17-month investigation by a team of 11 CIA officials. The Senate and House intelligence oversight committees requested the report, which follows in a CIA tradition of analyses of past mistakes in order to prevent recurrences. After double-agent Aldrich Ames was unmasked, the CIA inspector general produced a detailed account of the agency's failure to protect its Soviet spies. That report, which was made public, prompted sweeping changes in CIA counterintelligence practices.

In contrast, the IG report and Mr. Tenet's 20-page rebuttal are classified. This is a departure from past CIA practice. There is much about the IG report that is unusual. It was completed, according to multiple intelligence sources, by July 2004. Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin passed this hot potato to his successor, Porter Goss. As chairman of the House intelligence committee, Mr. Goss had lead the joint congressional inquiry into September 11 and called for the inspector general's report.


Under normal conditions, Karl Rove would already be taking pre-emptive action. But he is neutralized until the Valerie Plame leak probe ends. That leaves it to the president's allies on Capitol Hill to keep Mr. Tenet's rebuttal under wraps. With the families of September 11 victims demanding disclosure, this will not be easy.

CIA Director Goss is between a rock and a hard place. He will be criticized for covering up if he does nothing. But if he follows the IG's recommendation to convene formal hearings as a prelude to sanctions, Mr. Tenet himself may go public to defend his reputation. The $4.5 million book offer may soon be back on the table, and this time Mr. Tenet might take it.

As a commenter on the Newshour said last night --- "it will come out, it always does."

She'll Do As She's Told

Remember when I said Harry Miers was a Republican machine justice?

Check out this from last night's conference call to conservatives (via IsThatLegal):

One of the things that someone as a sixth-generation Texan that I want to add to this call and that is this: The two things that are probably ... there are two virtues that are valued as highly as any virtue can be valued in the Texas culture, and those two virtues are courage and loyalty. Courage and loyalty. And this President, he knows that Harriet Miers is also a Texan, and, with a degree of understanding that would never have to be articulated, he and she both understand that if she were to get on the Court and she were to rule in ways that were contrary to the ways that the president would want her to approach her role as a justice it would be a deep personal betrayal and would be perceived as such by both by him and by her.

That's from Richard Land of the Southern Bapist convention. There's more. Like this one from Jay Sekulow:

I'm involved in three three cases at the Court this Term, and believe me: I want Harriet Meirs up there voting on these critical cases.

Bush vs Gore proved how crucial the Supreme Court is to the consolidation and maintenance of Republican power. It's clear they learned their lesson well. They aren't even trying to hide it.


Very interesting prediction of how the case will go by commenter Sara at TPM cafe, followed by an equally interesting counter-theory by Ed Fitzgerald of Unfutz.

Thanks to Poputonian at KOTS and Dena
Say Hello

I've recruited a great blogger to fill in for me for a few days since I'm unable to lay my pearls before you with the frequency you deserve.

For your blog reading pleasure, welcome Tristero back to the blogosphere. He'll be turning up as he has time over the next few days.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Lone Star Parallel

It's been done before. Is it something in the bar-b-que sauce?

If confirmed, Miers will have to recuse herself from potentially dozens of cases concerning this administration; but that will not be her biggest problem on the Court. Rather, her most significant challenge will be her ability to do a professional u-turn. Can she take the one quality that means the most to the president who just nominated her--loyalty--and leave it completely behind as her work address moves several blocks east?

To weigh her chances of success, consider the lesson of Abe Fortas, the last justice to be elevated to the Court after enjoying such a close relationship with a sitting president. Fortas had been Lyndon Johnson's personal lawyer for years prior to Johnson becoming president. In 1948, when Johnson found himself in court over a closely contested Texas Senate race, he turned to Fortas, and Fortas delivered. Seventeen years later, LBJ put Fortas on the Supreme Court.

The problem was that Fortas could never leave his sense of loyalty to the president behind. On many cases where he had served a role advising Johnson in the matter before the Court, Fortas neglected to recuse himself. Worse than that, he continued to play an advisory role to LBJ even after ascending to the high Court. Johnson's key advisors, including Bill Moyers, Jack Valenti, and Joe Califano, continued to count on Fortas, sending directly to his Supreme Court chambers drafts of legislation and even State of the Union addresses for Fortas to sign off on. All this eventually caught up to Fortas. When LBJ nominated Fortas to be chief justice in 1968, his inappropriately close relationship to the president came under congressional and public scrutiny, and he later resigned in disgrace.

The article goes on to speculate that Miers may be more independent than Fortas because she broke glass ceilings in her career. I'm not holding my breath.

It is interesting, although irrelevant, that the only supreme court justice the senate actually ever threatened to filibuster was Abe Fortas' nomination to chief --- by Republicans.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Litmus Test

Q: What do you say when people will say he put his own lawyer on the Supreme Court? That's definitional, cronyism.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'd say look at her record. As I said, she is someone that he knows well. But look at her record. Her record is one of being a trailblazer for women in the legal profession and a record of being a tough and strong litigator who has represented clients before state and federal courts on a broad range of issues. She is someone who brings the exact kind of experience and qualifications needed on our nation's highest court, and that's why the President selected her.

But does she have any horse show experience?

The Machine Justice

I think it's kind of cute that so many conservatives are expressing such angst at the choice of Harriet Miers this morning. Seems they thought that the Bush administration was about conservative ideology. Funny.

The Bush administration is about setting up the legal and institutional framework for a Republican majority for the next generation. That is Karl Rove's raison d'etre, beyond Junior, beyond conservatism, beyond ideology.

Harriet Miers is the official machine justice, a made woman, the one whose only committment and loyalty will be to Karl Rove and George Bush. I'm sure they would have preferred Alberto Gonzales but he is too much of a known quantity to easily finesse the varying political requirements within the base. She will do just fine. She is their creature. Her purpose on the court is to assist the Republican party in any way necessary, not to advance conservatism.

Voting for business interests is, of course, a given. Now the Texas mafia and the spawn of the college Republicans have their own seat on the highest court in the land for the next 20 years. But having one on the court for the next 10 years is crucial. With the election fixing, gerrymandering, corruption and executive power cases coming before the court over the next few years, her position will be very important to the GOP machine. It may very well be personally important to Karl Rove himself. (One hopes that the Democratic senators will, at least, take the PR opportunity to extract a bunch of public statements from her that she will recuse herself if and when specific criminal cases involving big name Republicans she's worked with come before the court.)

It's important to recognize, finally, what Karl Rove and the Bush administration, with the help of the modern Republican apparatus under Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed is all about. They are building a political machine, not a political movement. I find it very amusing that the right wing "intellectuals," from their ivory tower think tanks and millionaire supported sinecures at political magazines, have still failed to recognize that.

"She's the kind of person you want in your corner when all the chips are being played," said one friend, Joseph M. Allbaugh, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Here's a little insight into Miers' involvement with the Texas mafia, from buzzflash.

Update: Regarding Roe vs Wade, I think she will vote to overturn Roe vs Wade if the leadership of the Republican Party feels it is in the party's best interest to overturn Roe vs Wade.

It's my belief that the GOP would love to overturn it as a payback for their base, and they will "arrange" for her to overturn if they feel it's time. But what they are most interested in is getting someone on the court who will not independently decide that the interests of democracy require that they vote against whatever GOP electoral schemes come down the pike. There can be no daylight on that. Miers can be guaranteed to do what is best for the GOP.

It's certainly possible that the elite wingnuts are in cahoots creating this little backlash against Miers, but it was orchestrated going back to last week with Pod and Frum both public dismissing her as a lightweight and a hack. I wouldn't put it past them, but I just have a gut feeling that they were taken by surprise by this one. This was a level of coordination that I've not seen on the blogs before, if that's what it was. (I think it was more what Atrios said --- they are disappointed because they wanted the satisfaction of telling the Dems to go fuck themselves.)

Many movement conservatives, whether from the Christian conservative base or the neocon cosmopolitans, really bought into the idea that Bush believes in something deeper than corporate power, cutting taxes for high earners and kicking ass. Yet, there is absolutely nothing in his performance in office that suggests he cares about anything else.

Rove, on the other hand, has the very public agenda of building a "permanent" Republican majority. That is what he's trying to do. Period. Whatever it takes to get there is what they will do -- neocons and Christian alike are just cogs in the machine.

Deep down they know the score. They sold their souls to this devil (don't tell me they didn't know what they were doing when they went after Clinton, Gore and Kerry like a pack of wild, rabid dogs) and now they are faced with the fact that they too have been punked.

The modern Republican party, at its core, is not about ideology or values or anything else that high minded mediocre intellectuals and religious zealots pretend motivates their "movement" It's about money and power. Same as it ever was. Ask Grover.


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Plame Out

I'm busy today and won't have time to post. So I will leave you with this tantalizing thought to chew over from my super-smart commenter Sara:

Judy is not the main course at all. What I suspect Fitzgerald had to do was eliminate the defense, namely that Miller and Cooper and other reporters were the source of the identity of "Wilson's Wife" as CIA NOC. Remember we have already been through this defense as PR over the past couple of years -- Wilson's wife scrubbed floors at CIA, she was a lowly secretary, an apprentise in the Directorate of Intelligence -- she ran the travel bureau -- defenses that would all exclude her identity as a NOC. I suspect that is what transpired today, so Fitzgerald's positive case can now emerge.

This makes sense to me. Now read the rest of her comment for a novel theory of Fitzgerald's case. Jane at firedoglake has been following this line too...


Friday, September 30, 2005

Channelling Scott McClellan

This. Is. Bullshit.

Judy has been released from her confidentiality agreement by her source and she is refusing to even name him publicly? Even though his own lawyer has given interviews in the press. Jesus H. Christ.

Q. Can you describe your role in this case since you didn't file a story but did go to jail? How would you characterize your role in this whole investigation?

MILLER. I was a journalist doing my job, protecting my source until my source freed me to perform my civic duty to testify.

Q. Scooter Libby's lawyer - and your source's lawyer - I suspect you're not going to tell us if that's correct.

MILLER. I am not going to tell you if that's correct.

Q. Your source's lawyer has said that had you asked, you wouldn't have had to spend any time in jail; he would have been more than willing to give you the explicit waiver you say you now accepted.

MILLER. No. Since I was not a party to those discussions, I'm going to let you refer those questions to my lawyer. I can only tell you that as soon as I received a personal assurance from the source that I was able to talk to him and talk to the source about my testimony, it was only then and as a result of the special prosecutor's agreement to narrow the focus of the inquiry to focus on the way - on that source, that I was able to testify. I testified as soon as I could. And I will ask you to please address the questions to which I was not a party to my lawyers.

Q. But Judy, a conversation you were party to: On the steps of this courthouse, when you and Matt faced contempt of court charges, you said out here, when Matt was asked the same question, your answer was different. You said no waiver would be acceptable.

MILLER. No. I said I had not received a personal, explicit, voluntary waiver from my source - what I considered that. That was my position and I said it many times. I said it before I went to jail. I said it when I was in jail.

Q. What about the perception that you spent 85 days dancing on the head of a pin?

MILLER. I will let people draw their own conclusions. I know what my conscience would allow and I was - I stood fast to that.

Q. Beyond the narrowest of principles involved, what is this really all about? Why was your testimony so important in Mr. Fitzgerald's . . .

MILLER. You'll have to ask Mr. Fitzgerald why it's important.

So this alleged reporter got a waiver handed to her on a silver platter and now refuses to tell the public what she knows? WTF???

Apparently, Judy is no longer a journalist but an official member of the Bush administration. She is using the patented McClellan non-answer "you'll have to ask Mr Fitzgerald" and "I can't speak to conversation to which I wasn't a party."

The only thing that allows Judy to pull this shit is if she's a target herself and there is no evidence of that. Otherwise, she is abdicating her responsibility as a reporter. If Libby released her to talk to the Grand Jury she has no obligation to keep it from the public, whom she allegedly serves. Matt Cooper discussed it and wrote about it. Pincus discussed it. Only Russert hasn't talked, but then nobody has had the balls to ask him about either. Novak has had to be restrained from spilling his lying guts. But Judy just can't seem to say or write a word about this.

Damn. If she had been this reticent about printing every piece of bogus bullshit that Ahmad Chalabi and the Bush administration poured into her willing little gullet, a hell of a lot of people would still be alive today.

This woman is not a journalist. She is a political operative.

Greatest Show On Earth

David Corn offers up the "rebuke" scenario and also speculates that the White House might be flogging that poor old dead pony, "the CIA did it." (You really have to wonder what they are giving Tenet if this turns out to be true. It would have to be on the order of a small monarchy somewhere or a trip around the world with Paris Hilton.)

I haven't any idea if what he says is true, but this caught my eye:

When Fitzgerald first pursued Miller and Cooper, it was easy to dismiss him as an overzealous prosecutor interested more in a vendetta than in making a case. But as the Cooper portion of this episode demonstrated, Fitzgerald was after information crucial to his investigation. From Cooper he obtained material that showed Rove had discussed the CIA identity of Wilson's wife with a reporter. Though Fitzgerald and Miller have clashed on non-Plame business previously, perhaps he has been seeking information just as critical from her.

For anyone following the matter, it's impossible not to guess about what's going on and what Fitzgerald will do. His grand jury expires at the end of October. He could impanel a new one and keep investigating. But all indications suggest he's close to done. One person who recently had contact with Fitzgerald and his attorneys says that they seem confident about whatever it is they are pursuing. The Miller matter was something of a sideshow that at times drew more attention than the central issue.

Tantalizing, isn't it? If the Punchin' Judy play is the sideshow, the main attraction must be a doozy.

Black Talk

I hesitate to get into this because people are sick of my preaching, but the hell with it. The fact is that Bill Bennett's racist statement is actually just one of many that are apparently happening all over right wing radio in the wake of Katrina:

Here's another example:

As if Hurricane Katrina victims didn't have enough going against them, now they're the latest targets of hate radio. Just listen to WFTL-AM (850), the 50,000-watt home of the Florida Marlins. It's also the home of some of the most radical right-wing voices in America.

One regular syndicated host, Atlanta-based Neil Boortz, contended after the disaster struck that a "huge percentage" of the evacuees from New Orleans were "parasites, like ticks on a dog." Then he warned, "They are coming to a community near you."

When a caller remarked that most of the evacuees were fat, Boortz readily agreed. "They didn't drown because you couldn't push them underwater if you had to," he chortled.

Then there's Kelley Mitchell, who spent a week broadcasting at the Houston Astrodome among flood victims. Mitchell, a big-boned blond who spent years on South Florida television news stations, didn't seem too concerned about the harrowing stories from the people in the stadium. Instead she was virtually obsessed with the reports of looting and railed for days against the alleged behavior of poor New Orleans blacks during the disaster. She took to calling the state "Lose-iana" and announced she was boycotting any monetary donations to the victims.

"If I heard, 'I'm looking for my mom, my dad, and my baby daddy again,' I would cringe," she said, referring to the victims who had lost relatives. "Everybody knows it's important to speak English but these knuckleheads."


Another Mitchell gem: "When I see bad behavior ... that's when it became about race. Whoever got over deep-seated prejudices is now wondering if it was right to do so."


"We need to let black America know we do want you, but we want you on the terms of the United States of America," she explained in a voice that sometimes sounds eerily similar to that of similarly built actress Kathy Bates. "And we want you to be full and complete human beings."

Isn't that special? "We" do want you. Apparently, black Americans, many of whom had ancestors wwho ere here a century or two before many right wing racist assholes' are now provisional Americans who have to adhere to certain "terms of the United States of America." I guess she wants to send them "back" to Africa if they fail to comply.


And, by the way, Bennett's crime is that he essentially said "blacks are born criminals." Certainly, you can say that aborting any number of discrete demographic groups could have an effect on the crime rate, but attributing it to race suggests something immutable. Males commit more crimes than females at least partly because of biological characteristics. Poor people of all races commit more crimes (at least a certain kind of crimes) because of their economic circumstances and cultural influences. Statistically, Blacks may commit more crimes than whites because of both of the above reasons, but there is nothing in the color of their skin or their DNA that makes them more likely to commit crimes than anyone else.

Libby Plus

Ok kidz. Judy's lawyer Bob Bennett just told Wolf Blitzer that Judy's agreement with Fitzgerald was limited to "the Valerie Plame matter" not just Libby. Wolf pressed. Fitzgerald Bennett reiterated that it was "the Valerie Plame matter."

Judy was worried that Fitzgerald was going to pursue her bogus WMD claims.

Bolton and Cheney and Rove all the rest aren't off the hook on Plame. Do you suppose that includes Niger?


My blogger friend Joe Vecchio lost his wife to illness this week. She was quite young. Any of you who have enjoyed Joe's "the voice of the working man" blog over the years, (and those who've not had a chance) can go over and pay your respects --- and donate little bit if you can. He's been out of work while his wife was very ill and the family could use some help.

RIP Catherine Susan Vecchio.

He's Gonna Hold His Breath Til He Turns Blue

Via Liberal Oasis, here's the latest from rightwing land on the new supreme nomination:

“Shell shocked,” “confused,” “stumbling,” “full of doubt.” These are all words I have heard used to describe the current White House effort to find Sandra Day O’Connor’s replacement. Batchelder, Williams, and Owen have all been interviewed, but the process continues to sputter along.

Several have told me not to buy into the Miers trial balloon. It is, I’m told, just that — a trial balloon. Another tells me, “The President wants Gonzales. That’s what is dragging this thing out. They’re sending out people to say he is conservative as if by telling us that enough we will say, ’sure, he really is one of us.’ That is not going to happen.”

The process is still moving. Those I have talked to in the past twenty-four hours tell me we should expect a minority or woman. The odds are that it will be a woman. Sykes’s name has gotten little play in the past twenty-four hours and Luttig’s name has gotten none. Larry Thompson’s name continues to surface. One person disputes all my sources and tells me that Thompson, not Clement, was the almost pick last time.

The jury is still out on the nominee. Says one from a phone call this morning, “The White House has gone into second guess mode. They want another Roberts, an enigma who will slip through and turn out to be a conservative. They are second guessing their picks. That, I would think, increases the chances of a Thompson or a Gonzales — someone the President’s gut tells him is conservative. My gut tells me we have to keep the pressure on or we’re [screwed].”

They don't want to put another woman on the court. Not really. The conservative Sandra Day O'Connor, who was personally distraught at the idea that Bush might not have won the 2000 election and made sure he was installed anyway, is now seen as some sort of left wing bra burner on the right. Clearly, women can't be trusted.

This is not an accident. There is a serious movememnt afoot to denigrate women's issues, and therefore, pressure Bush not to nominate another woman. Check out this story by Dahlia Lithwick on the "chick-baiting" that's going on around this supreme court nomination:

A few weeks ago I suggested that race and gender should not be the only—or even the primary—filter through which we consider Supreme Court nominees. I rejected the arguments that minority candidates serve as proxies for minority views (whatever those might be), or that they create the appearance of a court that "looks like America." I was wrong. We need another woman on the Supreme Court. And while we're at it we need a few more women on the Senate judiciary committee.


I wonder why both Ginsburg and O'Connor—who differ on virtually everything—feel so strongly that there should be two women on the Supreme Court that they'd use their offices to publicly urge the president to appoint one.

And I can't help but wonder if it has anything to do with the ways in which gender politics are starting to infect our discourse about the courts. Consider this commentary by Bruce Fein this week in the Washington Times: Fein lines up Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then levels potshots at them as believers in Supreme Court justices as "apostles over the law" because of their concern for John Roberts' positions on women's and civil rights. Oddly enough, Patrick Leahy, Joseph Biden, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, and the other male Senate Democrats who called for Roberts' views in this area are never mentioned.

Mark Steyn is positively bilious about this feminization of the Democrats in the Washington Times on Monday. Again Feinstein (and only Feinstein) is blistered for wanting to hear Roberts "talking to me as a son, a husband and a father." For which Steyn's prescription is that she "get off the Judiciary Committee and go audition for 'Return To Bridges Of Madison County,' or 'What Women Want 2' ('Mel Gibson is nominated to the Supreme Court but, despite being sensitive and a good listener, is accused of being a conservative theocrat')."

And here's George Will this week, also taking his nasty stick to Sen. Feinstein: "Dianne Feinstein's thoughts on the nomination of John G. Roberts as chief justice of the United States should be read with a soulful violin solo playing, or perhaps accompanied by the theme song of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.' Those thoughts are about pinning one's heart on one's sleeve, sharing one's feelings and letting one's inner Oprah come out for a stroll." Will's contempt for Senate efforts to know something about the next chief justice's "temperament and values"—to understand his heart—is absolutely laser focused on the senator from California. Odd. Never a mention of Biden, Schumer, Mike DeWine, and Dick Durbin—each of whom similarly deployed the language of hearts and feelings in their questioning of Roberts.

Now, I am not come today to praise Sen. Feinstein. Her performance during those hearings probably set the women's movement back a decade. From her ingenuous "Now, I'm not a lawyer …" questions to her tendency to turn even declarative sentences into halting questions, she hardly projected the air of mastery and confidence I've seen in her in the past. I'm not sure I can sign off on her self-appointed task of representing all 145 million American women at the hearings. I can't even get behind her efforts to force a clearly private man into vomiting up mawkish personal revelations onto the hearing-room floor.

But I do wonder why it became so very easy to blast only the woman who wanted to cut through Roberts' repeated claims to be a lean, mean law-making machine. I wonder why the woman who worried about his aloofness and disconnection from poverty or suffering was singled out for derision. Is it because the stereotype of the pathetic, whiny, "but how do you feel" nag fits so much better if the asker is wearing curlers and a housecoat? Is it a cynical effort to paint all women as hysterics or merely all Democrats as women? Or is it, in the end, the consequence of having only one woman on the committee?

I'm sure it's just an accident that Fein, Steyn (weird name-coincidence or conspiracy?), and George Will each singled out only Feinstein as their judiciary committee poster-person for the strange quest-for-feeling that characterized the Roberts hearings. But it certainly evokes something Ginsburg mentioned in her remarks yesterday at Wake Forest. According to the report, she noted that "she started in law school in the 1950s—a time when law students and law practitioners were predominantly male. She said she felt pressure to excel, to break the stereotypes about women. … 'You felt like all eyes were on you. If you gave a poor answer in class, you felt like it would be viewed as indicative of all female students.' "

Imagine being judged and ridiculed as a lightweight, when—as sole representative of your gender—you feel you must defend the achievement of all women. The solution for both Ginsburg's problem and Feinstein's is simple: Give the critics more targets. Load up the courts and Congress with enough women, and then maybe blaming them for being women in the first place will stop sounding like a legitimate critique.

Is it a cynical effort to paint all women as hysterics or merely all Democrats as women?

It's both. And one follows from the other. Lithwick says she's sure it's just a coincidence, but it isn't. These things don't come out of nowhere on the right.

One thing I hope that people think a little bit about is that this distaste for women's issues is one that can easily be internalized on both sides of the political fence. Indeed, it already has in some ways. This, like race, is much simpler for the right to deride than it is for the left to defend. These are complicated issues. Nonetheless, we have no choice. It is the essence of what we stand for --- liberty, equality. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Grey Lady Down

Dan Kennedy writes about Michael Isikoff taking TIME and the NY Times to task for not following up on the Plame story. Isikoff has a very checkered past in these matters, but in this case he is correct. The fact that TIME and The NY Times dropped the ball on these stories because their reporters refused to reveal their sources is really unconscionable. They should have pursued the stories more vigorously, not less.

If a reporter has a confidential source who is giving them backround information, they are supposed to, you know, go look for things like documents and other witnesses so they can actually publish a story. Matt Cooper, to his credit, did at least write one story and he took the proper inference from the leak -- that the white house was trying to discredit Wilson. The magazine then failed to properly follow-up and even withheld evidence in fear of swinging an election!

Miller never writing a story at all and the Times treating the whole thing like a pile of stinking garbage in which they didn't want to dip their finely manicured hands is just shocking.

Arianna excoriates
both today and asks the following very pertinent questions:

And so we don’t forget what this story is really about, and given that the aluminum tubes crap that Miller put on the front page of the New York Times was being heavily promoted by Cheney, how much of that bogus information came to Miller via Libby?

And here are a few questions for the Times:

Had a Plame/Wilson story been assigned to Miller or not?

What, if anything, did she say about the story to anyone at the paper at the time… and what did they say back?

Why did the Times hold back the story about Miller’s release and let multiple other news sources scoop them? Were they trying to miss the evening news cycle and avoid the overnight thrashing their spin has rightly received?

It would be nice if they spent the same amount of time handwringing about this as they did that puerile stunt by Jayson Blair, but I'm not holding my breath. When a newpaper is partially responsible for sending a country to war on false pretenses, they tend to circle the wagons. I thought the days of William Randooph Hearst were long dead history, but maybe not so much.


Just to be clear --- in my post below where I say that Libby's lawyers had better shut up, it was not because I thought their version of events with respect to the waivers was necessarily correct or incorrect. It was because it's never a good idea for lawyers to anger witnesses who are going to appear before a grand jury the next day.

Fat Lady Clearing Throat, Not Singing

It's kind of painful watching people talk about Libby and Miller this morning on television when it's clear that they are just riffing. Jonathan Alter is a smart guy, but his main talking point (on MSNBC) is whether Fitzgerald will issue a report that "rebukes" Rove and Libby for discussing a CIA employee even though they didn't do anything illegal. He seems to be resigned to the fact that there will be no indictments.

There does seem to be an emerging conventional wisdom (among my commenters at least) that Fitz will not indict. The fact that he doesn't intend to ask Miller about anyone but Libby feels like some sort of capitulation but let's keep in mind that any thoughts we had that he wanted to ask about anyone but Libby were always pure speculation. There was nothing in any of his court filings that indicated he wanted anything other than to question her about one specific person --- Libby. The court issued its contempt order based upon that request alone.

There was never any reason to believe that Fitzgerald wanted to discuss Judy's other sources, only that Judy didn't want to discuss her other sources with Fitzgerald. We may never know what motivated her to become the Martyr of Times Square (Hat tip Billmon.) She's a drama queen of the highest order and probably had a whole list of reasons. But Fitz has said from the beginning that he needed her testimony for one specific purpose and perhaps we snould believe that.

People are also saying that Judy will simply lie. To that I reiterate what I wrote in the post below. She never wrote a story so someone had to have told Fitzgerald that Judy and Libby spoke. Nobody knows who that was. Maybe it was Libby. Maybe it was someone that Libby told. Maybe it was someone Miller told. Judy cannot be sure what Fitzgerald knows or who he talked to. It would be very, very risky for her to lie.

Lifted from the comments down page, here's some intersesting speculation from Emptywheel of The Next Hurrah (one of the best Fitzgerald kremlinologists in the blogosphere) about what Fitz might have and what Judy might bring to the table:

What did Fitz get?

Proof that Libby's notes have been tampered with.

Notes that say WHIG carried out a plot to get Wilson (the conspiracy angle that gets Dick).

The crucial link in the chain of custody of the information.

Why did he agree to avoid other sources?

Because he already has the evidence. Before subpoenaing a journalist, you have to prove the journalist is the only source of the information. Someone else had/has that info for Fitz, so he doesn't need Judy for it. (Although she's going to look stupid in court when someone from the Times gets up and talks about her receiving some stuff from Bolton, but not testifying herself. But looking stupid never seemed to be a problem for her.)

The notes are clearly key:

“One set of documents that prosecutors repeatedly referred to in their meetings with White House aides are extensive notes compiled by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and national security adviser. Prosecutors have described the notes as ‘copious.’” [New York Times, 2/10/04]

It would be pretty to think that Judy might have notes that conflict with Libby's about the famous WHIG meeting that Joe Wilson wrote about in his book. That's what people have been waiting for.

For those who would like a quick refresher in who the administration players in this are and how they fit into the story as we know it, here's Think Progress' handy little primer.

(My good buddy Jim Wilkinson doesn't appear, but I have a feeling that he's lurking in this story somewhere too. He was a member of WHIG.)

Judith Iscariot

Murray Waas reports on why Miller's testimony is important to Fitzgerald:

What is perhaps left out of news accounts tonight is that Miller's testimony is central to whether special Fitzgerald brings criminal charges against I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney. Libby was unwavering in telling prosecutors and the FBI that he knew nothing of Plame's covert work for the CIA, even though he spoke to Miller about at length about her and her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Whether that account is truthful is something only both Miller and Libby know. Miller's testimony on that issue will be central to any final disposition of the criminal probe, sources close to the investigation have told me for some time now.

Just in case Judy didn't know what Libby would like her to say to the Grand Jury, the Washington Post helpfully printed it up for her:

According to a source familiar with Libby's account of his conversations with Miller in July 2003, the subject of Wilson's wife came up on two occasions. In the first, on July 8, Miller met with Libby to interview him about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the source said.

At that time, she asked him why Wilson had been chosen to investigate questions Cheney had posed about whether Iraq tried to buy uranium in the African nation of Niger. Libby, the source familiar with his account said, told her that the White House was working with the CIA to find out more about Wilson's trip and how he was selected.

Libby told Miller he heard that Wilson's wife had something to do with sending him but he did not know who she was or where she worked, the source said.

Libby had a second conversation with Miller on July 12 or July 13, the source said, in which he said he had learned that Wilson's wife had a role in sending him on the trip and that she worked for the CIA. Libby never knew Plame's name or that she was a covert operative, the source said.

Miller is a made man. Why would Fitzgerald think she would tell the truth when it's clear that Libby wants her to testify on his behalf?

Because somebody else has already spilled the beans. How else did Judy come to Fitzgerald's attention in the first place?

Asked why prosecutors sought Miller's testimony when she never wrote a story about Plame, Times attorney Floyd Abrams said, "We don't know, but most likely somebody testified to the grand jury that he or she had spoken to Judy."

Neither Miller or Libby can be absolutely sure what that person told the Grand Jury because neither of them can be absolutely sure that the other one didn't tell someone about their conversation. Who knows how many people could have testified before the grand jury about Miller and Libby?

One thing is certainly clear. Fitzgerald doesn't trust Judy as far as he can throw her. Here's what he said about her in court when she was asking for home detention:

The question is whether Miller would defy a final court order and commit the crime of contempt and thereby obstruct an investigation of persons who may have compromised classified information.

She has no idea what he knows. She would be an idiot to lie.

One other thing to keep in mind. For those of us who are looking for him to broaden the scope of this investigation and look into a larger set of issues surrounding the Iraq lies, if Fitzgerald hands down indictments it is only a first step. Indictments tend to focus the mind, I would think. Perhaps some people will have more to say when they are faced with serious legal trouble.

And it would certainly explain the dismal political performance of the white house lately if high level advisors have been too busy negotiating plea bargains for themselves to keep a close eye on Junior.

update: Via Anonymous Liberal I see that there is some dispute emerging about this waiver business that I hadn't heard before:

Also of note, is this conflicting account of the original waiver given by Libby to Miller over a year ago. First, from the Post.

[J]oseph Tate, an attorney for Libby, said yesterday that he told Miller's attorney, Floyd Abrams, a year ago that Libby's waiver was voluntary and that Miller was free to testify. He said last night that he was contacted by Bennett several weeks ago, and was surprised to learn that Miller had not accepted that representation as authorization to speak with prosecutors. "We told her lawyers it was not coerced," Tate said. "We are surprised to learn we had anything to do with her incarceration."

But we get this from the New York Times:

On Thursday, Mr. Abrams wrote to Mr. Tate disputing parts of Mr. Tate's account. His letter said although Mr. Tate had said the waiver was voluntary, Mr. Tate had also said any waiver sought as a condition of employment was inherently coercive.

If Abrams is telling the truth, then Libby apparently did not give Miller the kind of waiver that she required. If Tate told Abrams that the waiver Libby signed was "inherently coercive," then Abrams and Miller were correct to interpret that conversation as not amounting to a free and voluntary waiver. How else were they supposed to interpret such a comment?

Libby's lawyers probably should shut their mouths.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Welcome To Our World

Hunter at Daily Kos responds to the delicate pearl clutchers of the right who find themselves simply overwrought at the shocking prospect of all these corruption scandals being exploited for partisan gain. If there's one thing they have never been able to abide it's despicable underhanded politics. What is this world coming to?


Welcome to the world of the politics of personal destruction, you tubthumping, chin-jutting, Bush humping gits. Welcome to the nasty and partisan world that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and a legion of insignificant lowest-rung toadies like yourselves nurtured into fruition daily with eager, grubby hands, and now look upon with dull-faced faux horror.


Step back from the edge? You poor boy, asleep in the back of the car the whole trip, finally waking up and wondering where you're at.

Swift boats. Aluminum tubes. Niger uranium. "Mushroom clouds". Whitewater.

Vince Fucking Foster.

You can't even see the edge from here. You left it behind a hundred miles back.

So don't give me chest-thumping crap about civil wars, if your politicians are indicted. Don't give me visions of a lake of fire, if all those who find you loathsome refuse to suck at your teats of scientific ignorance in the name of religion, racism in the name of freedom, and corruption in the name of the New World Order.

Get used to the world you have created, and the stench your worshipped heroes have unleashed.

Hear hear.

And might I just add ... Republicans impeached a duly elected president over a trivial sexual matter and one year later installed a moron in the presidency by one vote on the Supreme Court. Handwringing from the likes of them about partisanship is a truly impressive and unprecedented act of phony, shit-eating Phariseeism --- which is really saying something.

Just in case there's been a massive memory loss on the right, here's a little trip through the wayback machine:

In arguing for impeachment and against censure, Republican members of Congress have hinted at a trove of still-secret, non-Monica-related documents about President Clinton's sexual misconduct. "Before people look to cut a deal with the White House or their surrogates ... it is my hope that one would spend plenty of time in the evidence room," said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay. "If this were to happen, you may realize that 67 votes may appear out of thin air. If you don't, you may wish you had before rushing to judgment."


1.The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny.

Idiot Abroad

Ezra Klein once asked something to the effect of "why would Bush send a seven foot tall white woman to aid our public face in the Islamic world?" It's a good question, but more importantly, why would you send a seven foot tall white woman who speaks like a 6th grader to aid our public face in the middle east and convince the entire world that all Americans are as dim-witted as the president and that Osama bin Laden is right?

Sid Bumenthal puts it like this:

This week, Hughes embarked on her first trip as undersecretary. Her initial statement resembled an elementary school presentation: "You might want to know why the countries. Egypt is of course the most populous Arab country ... Saudi Arabia is our second stop. It's obviously an important place in Islam and the keeper of its two holiest sites ... Turkey is also a country that encompasses people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, yet has the -- is proud of the saying that 'all are Turks.'"

Hughes appeared to be one of the pilgrims satirized by Mark Twain in his 1869 book, "Innocents Abroad," about his trip on "The Grand Holy Land Pleasure Excursion." "None of us had ever been anywhere before; we all hailed from the interior; travel was a wild novelty to us ... We always took care to make it understood that we were Americans -- Americans!"

If you would like to read some commentary that makes George W. Bush sound downright erudite, check out Hughes' entire statement:

UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: We're going to be visiting, as you know, three unique and very important countries, three countries we have a very strong partnership with one of them. We also face very significant public diplomacy challenges in one of them. One of my missions is to go to listen. I hope to listen, to seek to understand, to show respect. Listening is a two way street, and so I hope that those people I meet will also return that open spirit and be willing to listen. I'm going to take a lot of questions, I'm going to participate in a lot of give and take and I hope they'll be willing to listen to my discussion (inaudible).


I just wanted to talk a little bit to answer your questions about, kind of, my approach. As I said I view this trip as the beginning of a new dialogue that is very much people driven -- public diplomacy is people-driven and it's policy driven, because our policies affect people's lives. I don't see this as a matter of opinion polls or public relations, I see this as a matter of policy. That's really what drew me to public service in the first place. When I first decided to leave reporting and go to the political process it was because I realized that the decisions made in the political process made a very real difference peoples lives. So when I talk about people I'm talking about policies, I'm talking about our policies and the impact they have on people. I think that's what we've got to focus on here. I also -- I go as an official of the United States government, but I'm also a mom, a working mom, and so I hope that I could help, in some places, put a human face on America's public policy.


... just one of the points that we're going to make as we meet with people is, is talk about our American story and how it's a collective story that's written by individuals. We all have unique stories to tell. My own background as a granddaughter of a Pennsylvania coal miner and a Kentucky railroad worker. Dina, of course came here from Egypt, and we're very proud that our first stop in Egypt we're going to be taking someone who I think Egypt is very proud of Dina, the fact that she emigrated from Egypt as a young child, and has risen to the highest levels of our American government, and that's a wonderful American story.

Karima has her own American story. She is the daughter of a Palestinian father and a German mother and I'm sure that Bill has some part of an American story, although I haven't heard it yet (laughter) I'm sure he will be glad to share it with you. He currently lives in Wisconsin and I don't know what his family roots are.

When she isn't talking about being a mom, which she seems to think is a unique and important qualification for being the voice of American public diplomacy, she's actually advancing jihad. From the Blumenthal piece:

Hughes' simple, sincere and unadorned language is pellucid in revealing the administration's inner mind. Her ideas on terrorism and its solution are straightforward. "Terrorists," she said in Egypt at the start of her trip, "their policies force young people, other people's daughters and sons, to strap on bombs and blow themselves up." Somehow, magically, these evildoers coerce the young to commit suicide. If only they would understand us, the tensions would dissolve. "Many people around the world do not understand the important role that faith plays in Americans' lives," she said. When an Egyptian opposition leader inquired why President Bush mentions God in his speeches, she asked him "whether he was aware that previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our Constitution cites 'one nation under God.' He said, 'Well, never mind.'"

With these well-meaning arguments, Hughes has provided the exact proof for what Osama bin Laden has claimed about American motives. "It is stunning ... the extent [to which] Hughes is helping bin Laden," Robert Pape told me. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted the most extensive research into the backgrounds and motives of suicide terrorists, is the author of "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," and recently briefed the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center. "If you set out to help bin Laden," he said, "you could not have done it better than Hughes."

Pape's research debunks the view that suicide terrorism is the natural byproduct of Islamic fundamentalism or some "Islamo-fascist" ideological strain independent of certain highly specific circumstances. "Of the key conditions that lead to suicide terrorism in particular, there must be, first, the presence of foreign combat forces on the territory that the terrorists prize. The second condition is a religious difference between the combat forces and the local community. The religious difference matters in that it enables terrorist leaders to paint foreign forces as being driven by religious goals. If you read Osama's speeches, they begin with descriptions of the U.S. occupation of the Arabian Peninsula, driven by our religious goals, and that it is our religious purpose that must confronted. That argument is incredibly powerful not only to religious Muslims but secular Muslims. Everything Hughes says makes their case."

We know what happened when Bush put poor little Brownie in charge of federal disaster response and it wasn't pretty. We're going to be lucky if "Hurricane Karen" doesn't set off WWIII.

She's off to a good start.

The good news is that she's listened and she's learned and she's bringing back to the White House some incredible insights:

Ms. Hughes promised to take what she learned from hearing dissenting views back to Washington. She was struck, she said, when a Turkish official told her to try to imagine the situation of Iraq, a next-door neighbor, sliding into possible civil war and engulfing Turkey from the perspective of "the common Turk."

"I will be sure to bring that message back to President Bush when I get back to Washington," she said.


The Big Squeeze

So Judy got her super-duper-double-special waiver finally and was sprung. Of course, it makes no more sense today than it did two months ago but the NY Times is intent upon keeping up the fiction for their intrepid girl reporter:

... the discussions were at times strained, with Mr. Libby and Mr. Tate asserting that they communicated their voluntary waiver to Ms. Miller's lawyers more than year ago, according to those briefed on the case. Mr. Libby wrote to Ms. Miller in mid-September, saying that he believed her lawyers understood that his waiver was voluntary.

Others involved in the case have said that Ms. Miller did not understand that the waiver had been freely given and did not accept it until she had heard from him directly.

What a bunch of crap. Here's the nut:

In written statements today, Ms. Miller and executives of The New York Times did not identify the source who had urged Ms. Miller to testify. Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said that Mr. Fitzgerald had assured Ms. Miller's lawyer that "he intended to limit his grand jury interrogation so that it would not implicate other sources of hers."

Mr. Keller said that Mr. Fitzgerald had cleared the way to an agreement by assuring Ms. Miller and her source that he would not regard a conversation between the two about a possible waiver as an obstruction of justice.

First of all, why is Bill Keller involved in this to this degree? He's her editor, not her lawyer. Was he involved in the negotiations or is he reporting the story? If it's the latter, why would that be? Don't they have any reporters who can interview Judy and get the facts?

More importantly it seems obvious now that Jeralyn was right; Judy's real issue was being asked about her other sources under oath. It looks like they came to some sort of agreement about that. (No Bolton?)

It also appears at least possible that Fitzgerald was threatening to charge both Libby and Miller for obstruction of justice for talking to one another --- whether that referred to the conversation noted in the article between the two of them and their lawyers this month or an earlier conversation is unclear.

The question is what Fitzgerald got in return for agreeing not to ask Judy about her lovers ..er sources. And don't think he didn't get something in return.

In case anyone's wondering if Fitzgerald is really the tough guy everyone thinks he is, check out this story from last week about the Governor George Ryan trial in Illinois. You'll notice that he flipped Ryans "political son" by arresting his mistress and squeezing her until she convinced him to testify:

Whether the jury believes Fawell, given his previous vow never to testify against Ryan and subsequent flip-flop when prosecutors put heat on his fiancee, is important for Ryan’s defense.

“I’m still not overly comfortable with participating,” Fawell told a federal judge last Oct. 28 during a teary testimonial to try to keep his mistress-turned-fiancee, Andrea Coutretsis, out of prison. “I don’t relish testifying against George Ryan.”

Fawell, 48, was once the heir to DuPage County political royalty. His mother is Beverly Fawell, a former state legislator. His father is Bruce Fawell, a former chief judge in the county. And his uncle, Harris Fawell, was a respected congressman from Naperville.

Scott Fawell rose through the GOP political ranks rapidly, serving as a driver for then-U.S. Sen. Charles Percy, lobbyist for the tollway authority and campaign operative for then-Gov. Jim Thompson. He ended up working for then-Lt. Gov. Ryan, and helped Ryan win a close race in 1990 for secretary of state.

Ryan rewarded him with the chief of staff job and then the nearly $200,000-a-year plum of running the agency that oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier.

So if Ryan indeed has figurative bodies buried somewhere, as prosecutors allege, Fawell is in position to know the location. He gave prosecutors a 45-page sworn statement.

Fawell talked about special secretary of state office leases prosecutors say Ryan illegally steered to co-defendant Warner. He also took yearly vacations to Jamaica with Ryan, trips a businessman who got an office lease would reimburse the duo for, according to prosecutors.

Among other things, Fawell also supposedly knows about alleged selling of low-digit license plates for campaign contributions. He helped set up a scheme in which secretary of state workers would do campaign work on state time, prosecutors say. And when it came time to cover up the illegal political activity, prosecutors likely will try to prove Fawell told Ryan about massive document-shredding that was going on.

A jury found Fawell guilty for his part in the corruption scandal. He’s serving a 6¨-year sentence at a federal work camp in Yankton, S.D.

Fawell, however, gave his testimony to prosecutors reluctantly, a fact that Ryan’s defense team undoubtedly will bring to jurors’ attention.

“I’m not going to sell myself out just to save myself,” Fawell said after his sentencing in late June 2003. “I’m not sitting on any bomb of George Ryan’s. I’m not going to go in there and make up stories about him just to save myself, which unfortunately that’s the game (prosecutors) like you to play.”

That, however, was before Fitzgerald’s office charged Coutretsis, formerly of Long Grove. Coutretsis, a mother of two and Fawell’s one-time assistant at McPier, faced a prison sentence for perjury before persuading Fawell to turn on Ryan. In return, she could get six months or probation. Fawell could get six months shaved off his sentence.

Do you think that Fitzgerald was impressed with Judy's "principles" or her desire for a super-special-in-person-blood-oath waiver from Scooter? Right. He didn't do this for meaningless testimony or just for fun. He got something important.